She Said:

So today we got up early, loaded up the minivan, and headed home. All the way across Kansas. Max kept asking all day, “Are we in Raymore yet? Are we still in Colorado? Is it still a long time to get home?” It was chilly and rainy all day and the rain followed us home. Luckily, the kids were pretty good and I think everyone was ready to get home. Before I do my vacation recap, here are a few photos of the kids, happy to be at home in their own beds 🙂

Y = We didn’t like it or don’t recommend it
YY = We’re indifferent
YYY = We liked it
YYYY = We loved it!
Day 1:

Great Bend, Kansas: Ice Cream Churn at Zip Stop 2 The ice cream was great and very reasonably priced.
YYY Larned, Kansas: Rodeway Inn Nice clean hotel with internet access and free breakfast and it was pretty cheap.
Day 2:
Y La Junta, Colorado: Picketwire Canyon Lands Well, considering we never made it there, it only gets 1 heart. We found this in the Colorado vacation guide, but couldn’t find an address or anything. It wasn’t in our gps either. We called home and Papa googled it and gave us the address. We ended up turning around on a long dirt (I mean mud) road because we were afraid we were going to get stuck.
Y Walsenburg, Colorado: Budget Host Inn There was no internet, no breakfast, and no bathtub. But it really wasn’t that bad. It was clean, the air conditioner worked, and they had free ice. But it was the same price as the Rodeway Inn we stayed at in Larned, and not NEARLY as nice. Really though, the no internet part was the dealbreaker for us.
Day 3:
YYY Pagosa Springs, Colorado: Treasure Falls A nice long hike up 200 ft vertical, about 1/4 mile. Definitely worth the trek and the 30 minute break from riding in the car. (free)
YYY Pagosa Springs, Colorado: The Spa at Pagosa Springs I really wanted to stay at one of the hot springs resorts, but didn’t really want to fork over the cash they wanted. This place was not NEARLY as nice as the resort across the street, but they wanted $179/night, so we kept right on driving past there. This spa had a pass for $10/person to come in and just use the hot springs pools and you didn’t have to stay there. I went around 8:45 p.m. at night and they were open until 10 p.m. They had a big swimming pool, a smaller hot tub, and a bath house. Since I went at night, it was not crowded at all and was very relaxing. Definitely worth $10. But make sure you bring a towel because they charge $3 to rent one. Luckily the nice lady at the front let me ‘borrow’ one 🙂 Oh, and it’s super hard to find, even with a gps 🙁
YYYY Pagosa Springs, Colorado: The Malt Shoppe This was a tiny little place that said, “Old fashioned burgers” on the side of the building. We saw it when we drove through town five times looking for the spa. Their burgers and waffle fries were great! They were a little pricey… I think we spent about $25 for both of us to get a burger and fries, Josh had a malt, I had a coke, Max had a corn dog, and Ava had a hot dog. But the ice cream was great and cheap! We got the biggest ice cream cone EVER for $1.79. It was soft serve vanilla/chocolate swirl. Oh, and The Malt Shoppe gets bonus points for being home to the infamous facial hair quarter machine.
YYY Pagosa Springs, Colorado: Oak Ridge Lodge This was a really nice hotel. The room was big and clean. They had wireless internet, a heated indoor swimming pool that the kids loved, and it was next door to the hot springs spa I went to, so that was nice. It was a little pricey, but I’m sure that’s because Pagosa Springs is a tourist town. The free breakfast was served in the restaurant that was attached to the hotel. This was great for us because me and the kids ate the free breakfast and Josh got to order himself a ‘real breakfast’. The lady at the front desk at the hotel said they gave a discount on breakfast, but the waitress had no idea about a discount.
Day 4:
Y Durango, Colorado: Zuberfizz We were so excited to eat dinner here, but when we got there, they had a sign up that said, ‘summer hours 9 am to 5 pm’. What the heck is up with that?! That’s why they only get 1 heart.
YYY Durango, Colorado: Steamworks Brewery Since Zuberfizz was closed, we ended up here for dinner. Overall, the food was really good and so was the service. A little pricey, but again, Durango is a tourist town, so we kind of expected that.
YYYY Durango, Colorado: KOA Kampgrounds We rented a cabin here and I had to give it 4 hearts because it is really an awesome campground. Despite the fact that they spell campground with a ‘K’ instead of a ‘C’, we still loved it. Our experience probably would have been much better had we been prepared for camping, but we weren’t. But that’s our fault :). The campgrounds were super clean, they had a heated swimming pool, a playground, a doggie park, they show movies every night at 8 p.m., have ice cream at 7:30 p.m., pancakes in the morning, and the bathrooms were super clean. And they had hot water! I took a shower and it was just as nice as taking a shower in a hotel. The only downfall is that the bathroom was a short walk from our cabin, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if we didn’t have two little ones who always need to go potty 🙂 Oh, and the kids LOVED the bunk beds. And they had wireless internet!
Day 5:
YYY Mesa Verde, Colorado: Mesa Verde National Park We spent most of the day at the park and were able to visit two different cliff dwelling sites, the Spruce Tree and the Step House. We really enjoyed the park and the trails were not too tough. The only downfall is that once you get to the toll
gate at the front of the park, it’s still another 15 miles (up winding mountain roads at 25 mph) to the visitors center. Each site is another 10 to 15 miles. We ended up doing more driving than anything else.
Day 6:
YYYY Ouray, Colorado: Ouray Candy Company Mmm… the chocolate peanut turtles were yummy and the kids loved their green rock candy. After they ate the candy, they used the sticks as swords 🙂
Y Buena Vista, Colorado: Balloonavista This was a total bust. It looked like it was going to be this awesome hot air balloon festival. I envisioned hundreds of hot air balloons floating over the mountains. Yeah, they had 4 balloons. We had a really hard time even finding the rodeo grounds because there were no balloons there when we drove by. We were super bummed about this one, as we made the trip to Buena Vista just for the balloon festival.
YY Buena Vista, Colorado: Super 8 Motel We didn’t have cell phone service in Buena Vista, so we just pulled up to the first hotel and got a room. It was kind of expensive and I figured it was because so many people were in town for the balloon festival. Nope. Just expensive. And they said they had french toast sticks on the breakfast spread, but they did not, much to Josh’s dismay. No real complaints overall though, just expensive and no french toast.
Day 7:
YYY Woodland, Colorado: Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center This place was pretty cool and probably would have been more fun if our kids were a little older. Either way, they enjoyed looking at the dinosaur bones and they REALLY loved the dinosaur head biters we got at the gift shop.
YYYY Colorado Springs, Colorado: Garden of the Gods This place was awesome! It was so beautiful and the kids loved climbing on all the rocks. It’s a free park too. It’s definitely a must-see if you’re visiting the area!
YYYY Colorado Springs, Colorado: Seven Falls The waterfall was really beautiful and Max and Josh made the hike up all 224 steps to the top. It was too dangerous for the little ones, but they enjoyed the view from below. And they had ice cream in the snack shop… what more could you ask for?
YY Colorado Springs, Colorado: Rodeway Inn The hotel was nice and clean and they had free breakfast. The only downfall was that their wireless internet is not quite set up yet, so we only had internet access from the lobby.
Day 8:
YYYY Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo This was one of the best visits we had on our trip! The zoo was small enough that we were able to see everything in about 3 1/2 hours, but not so small that you felt you didn’t get your money’s worth. There were a lot of fun things for the kids to do, like feeding the giraffes and the budgie buddy birds. Everything was nice and clean and well kept. We would definitely go again if we’re ever in Colorado Springs.
YYY Colorado Springs, Colorado: Ghost Town Museum This was a cool little attraction, an indoor old western town. I think it would have been more fun for our kids if they were a little bit older, but they enjoyed the old fashioned telephones and the trick mirrors.
YY Colby, Kansas: Motel 6 This motel was super cheap and good enough. The room was clean, everything worked, and they had free internet, a fridge, and a microwave.
That’s it! Overall, we had a great trip and can’t wait for the next opportunity to pack up the minivan and head out on the road! We are hoping to head East next time, so if you have any suggestions, let us know!

He Said:

Well, we made it home tonight. We had a boring day. We drove through thunderstorms off and on. It was cold, and windy, so we didn’t get to do any fun stuff with the kiddos today.
So, since I don’t have a lot of pictures to share, I decided to give you a list of stats from our trip:
1 – # of “unsafe backing” tickets I got
4 – # of hot air balloons at Balloonavista (only 4!!!!!!?????!!!!)
8 or 9 – # of times Max whacked someone with his new dino toy (usually Ava)
14 – # of times the kiddos ate nuggies and apples from McDonald’s
45 – # of minutes Jenny spent in the hot mineral springs (I think she could have slept there)
62 – # of times Ava asked to “ride the swings”
167 – # of times Lia stood up in her pack & play when she was supposed to be sleeping (causing the other kids to laugh and encourage her to do it some more)
1,095 – # of combined potty stops on the road
2,092 – # of miles driven on our 9 day road trip
2,517 – # of pictures taken by me and Jenny
1,568,246 – # of smiles I witnessed on my wife & kiddo’s faces during our trip and that’s all that matters 🙂

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